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Murray Market Maintains Roots, with Many Returners and Much Revenue

Sep 29, 2015 10:10AM ● By Rhett Wilkinson

Murray Farmers Market vendor Theron Jensen (far right) with his daughter and granddaughters. The function has a year-to-year return rate as high as 80 percent. Markets like Murray’s help a farmer make 75 percent of his revenue. Photo courtesy Susan Furner

By Rhett Wilkinson

With a state agriculture administrator declaring that it has stayed true to its roots, the Murray Farmers Market has seen high percentages of return attendees and vendor revenue.

“The Farm Bureau-sponsored markets which continue to remain in Murray’s central park… have largely remained true to their primary purpose – that of offering Utah-grown produce directly to the public,” Utah Farm Bureau Director of Member Services Susan Furner wrote.

And the 34-year-old market has seen different locations over the years as it struggled to find the right home. Its success, however, wasn’t much of an issue. It has seen up to 80 percent of its attendees return year-to-year and a farmer, Tyson Roberts, has made 75 percent of his revenue from markets like Murray’s, Furner said.

“The biggest problem,” Furner said, “is parking.”

Many other local markets in Utah have been created during the decades that the market has succeeded, including a Layton function. It seems as though many Murray area residents understands something that the “general public” doesn’t, Furner said.

“They don’t understand is how important it is to understand culture and they always take for granted food at the grocery store,” she said. “We in America enjoy abundance and affordable food and sometimes lose sight of where it comes from, the risky business that it is, the demographics and the mercy of weather and markets.”

Enter farmers.

“They have to be well-versed to be successful,” Furner said. “One thing that I love is to go to that market and see how proud they are of what they produce. … That’s part of the payback: people come back and love what they get. And you see generations – growers, a lot of them, children, grandchildren who are helping to sell. And those grandchildren have as much pride in those products as adults do. It’s a fun thing to watch.”

Among other things to see at the market include the Roberts’ family’s popcorn off the cob. Also, heirloom tomatoes, perennial plants, local honey and handmade mozzarella cheese in pizza dough from the epicurean chef.

Furner, a Montana native, grew up in agriculture. She loves the Farm Bureau’s tradition of “grassroots” development of markets. Her profession was different in the past – she taught high school in Murray for six years. But today, she enjoys the challenge to “build rural Utah,” including advocacy to the state legislature. There is a farm bureau in most counties of every state outside of the national bureau. The bureau sends permits to potential vendors in April, she said.

“The whole purpose is to develop policy that influences agriculture and keeps up with safe and affordable food,” Furner said. “We all like to eat. … Buying fresh produce at local farmers markets… allows shoppers to make the connection between the farm and the dinner table.”

The market runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through October at Murray Park at 296 Murray Park Blvd. in Murray.